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Tuesday Poll: How Often do You Upgrade Phones?

In a time where new phones seem to populate our news feeds on a weekly basis, it would make sense that consumers in general are always looking for ways to upgrade. But the reality is, that most people can’t afford to buy a new phone every six months off-contract. Most have to wait until they have upgrades available through their carrier, which includes a subsidized discount.

So in today’s poll, we’re wondering which category you fit in. Do you typically wait out the entirety of your 2-year contract, steal upgrades from other lines on your account, or purchase phones at will as you please?

How Often do You Change Phones?

View Results

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  • Audi

    Currently on VZW in Maryland and I get my phones in great condition off Craigslist. Once my contract is up in Dec I’m switching to Sprint. VZW has just gotten too outrageous.

  • dylan84

    I always wait til I get the upgrade when my contract ends.

  • Chris Hollenbeck

    When the voices in my head tell me.

  • I am tired of seeing phones advertised with features and then go to secure the unit and find out it has been bastardized by the vendor at the request of the system operator Going GSM may not be the easiest thing to do but as carriers and phone mfg learn you don’t create loyalty by stabbing customers in the back the consumer will get better products and service.

  • umataro42

    I voted for “whenever I see a new phone I like”, but as a reference my first smart phone was the OG Droid (I’m on Verizon) and the next phone I saw that I liked was the Galaxy Nexus. I probably won’t upgrade with Verizon though, since they don’t seem likely to get another nexus phone.

  • Kr B

    I just buy used now. Most phones depreciate to half their original msrp in a few months. I bought a Droid RAZR for $150 3 months after it came out, although that was mostly because of all the different RAZR models.

  • Every year – but not with other lines. I don’t have a contract and just sell my old phone and buy a new one for less than $200.

    • Chris

      Same as me! Good man!

  • JS629

    Sadly, whenever I break it or it sh*ts the bed itself.

  • Normally, when the contract expires. Alas, my Bionic has experienced unexpected gravity surges from less than optimal heights and is now exhibiting abnormal and declining behavior characteristics as a result of the blunt gravity traumas.

  • Used to be every 2 years for me, but with VZW’s new data caps I suspect I’ll be using my Galaxy Nexus until it physically dies

  • dwm

    Whenever there’s something out compelling enough to make me pay full price (so I can keep my unlimited 4G on VZW). So far, sticking with my GNex

  • when a phone comes out that’s worth the full list price, i’ll purchase. I currently have the sgs3 and if the sgs4 is worth the upgrade, I’ll pay.

  • D4niel

    You’re missing an option: I upgrade every 2 years, but it has nothing to do with cheap upgrades. I’ve been buying every other Nexus (at full price).

  • moelsen8

    used to be every 2 years. now, whenever i feel like it. thanks for the nudge, verizon.

  • DanWazz

    In the past I’ve just waited until my upgrade to get a phone on the cheap. No more. No more contracts and no more b.s.

  • I upgrade when I really don’t like the phone I have or really just want something new. I always use another line’s upgrade to keep my unlimited plan. πŸ˜€

  • Mikey Styles

    Line 1: OG Droid –> Droid X–> Droid X2 –> Galaxy Nexus –> GSIII –> Note 2
    Line 2: OG Droid –> Droid 2 –> Droid 2 Global –> LG Spectrum –> GSIII

    Lots of movement for my 2 lines which one is the lady

  • yungqb7

    I have an upgrade but I’m waiting on the galaxy s4. I’ll deal with losing my unlimited data on verizon

  • Needs a fourth option: “took Kellen’s advice and went to T-Mobile prepaid. Will upgrade when Google releases their next unlocked, off contract, Nexus device”. Tmobile coverage for me is identical to Verizon, so I’m cool.

  • NicholasMicallef

    Every 2 years but not because contract expires, since I buy my phones full price and I’m not on a contract.

  • MasterEthan

    I used upgrade in the past but going to buy phones full price going forward.

  • RiotingPanda

    That picture. Mmmmm….

  • No Faith


  • I had to go with every 2 years bc its the truth but now with phones that are being sold directly by places like the Google Play Store for almost the same price as new every 2 phones that are brand new on the scene, its now time to start buying cheap off contract phones! πŸ™‚

  • upgraded

    I’m on my third within a year 1 was upgrade $40 lg revolution then I got a RAZR Maxx free when the revolution died 6 weeks later sold it for $200.00 and used an upgrade from another line to get the RAZR HD!! πŸ™‚ me happy!!

  • Lenny Fudenna

    upgrades when available, flip them on craigslist/ebay whenever i can find deals. HTC Eris – Moto Droid – Droid Incredible – Galaxy Nexus – GS3. All total I’ve spent about $300 over the last three years. $100 per year is not bad for me

  • Until VZW got rid of Unlimited Data I would upgrade 1 line then use a second line the next time around. Now it will be every 2 years. I am lucky I have a second line I can use to KEEP my unlimited data as it only has a feature phone on it. My line currently HAS an available upgrade NOW. But I dare not use it for ANY phone and have to change my data plan. I already use 8-12GBs in a month (yes that’s just on the phone, no tethering, I stream ALOT of Internet Radio). So a data plan would be WELL over $100 just in Data to get the tier I would need.

  • shecalledmejay

    I haven’t need to upgrade since I got my Gnex in 11′, but now I will upgrade to the next nexus, X phone, or the galaxy S4

  • With there only being one carrier here. I really don’t have another option.

  • James Hill

    Why is there no voting option for, “not upgrading since VZW threatened me with data caps”?

  • Stevedub40

    ‘Tis the beauty of having a family plan where no one cares about upgrading :). I can pretty much get the latest phone and sell my old one to cover the cost. Plus there is the loophole where you can transfer your upgrade to another line, so I can still use my upgrade to get a new phone and not lose my unlimited :).

  • Butters619

    I upgrade once a year. One year with the contract. Next without. It pretty much comes out to $200 a year which I’m fine with.

  • Now that i’ve left the suffocating confines of Big Red, and joined the ranks of those buying non-carrier affiliated Nexuses, I’ll be getting a new phone every year. Thank you, Google!

  • #1DroidFan

    I have had roughly about 15 in the past 4 years…

  • Bionic

    I want a phone I can legitimately enjoy for over 2 years. That phone is the x phone.

    • hkklife

      I sure hope so!!

      BTW, Bionic, any recent or new news/leaks on the reported X phone specs? I am really curious to see if it ends up 4.7″ or 5″. 5″ is almost a must-have for me after playing with the DNA. Also curious if expandable storage makes the cut.

      • Bionic

        5 inch screen. As of right now it has an SD card slot but that is subject to change because the phone isn’t final yet.

        • SeanBello

          damn, I was really hoping it wouldn’t be 5″. 5″ seems like a niche area rather than mainstream big seller

  • Nakrohtap

    Although I hate not being able to upgrade more than once every 20 months (due to pricing mostly), I do appreciate my new phone more when I get it. Some people who get a new phone every 4-6 months just to have the next best thing don’t have that lull when you get into the last 6 months until your eligibility and want to throw your phone through the wall. The “next big thing” is more like an incremental upgrade to them. When my upgrade is due this summer, there should be a few phones that will get my full attention.

  • Bionicman

    i try yearly because i have a total of 4 lines but my vzw note 2 may be the first to last 2 years!

  • wh1te_mag1c

    Once my contract with Verizon expire (in about 10 months), I’ll leave vzw and go pre-paid with some other carrier. I’m done being nickel & dimed. Vzw managed to cheat me out of 2gb/mo. I never had unlimited, but 4gb/mo for the price of 2gb wasn’t a bad deal.

    • Christian Orpinell

      Being with Verizon really does add up and correct me if I’m mistaken, it seems that Verizon is trying their hardest to remove customers from the old unlimited plan. Any changes you make will affect it and ultimately causing a void in the plan option.

      Actually, did they completely remove it? Anyways, I don’t think I’m going to get another phone in a long time as I’ve spent wayy too much already. I feel nickel and dimed also.

      • hkklife

        A buddy of mine upgraded to a RAZR MAXX back in Nov or Dec and he pitched a small fit. The VZW sales rep was pretty cool and said as a 1-time courtesy for being such a long-time VZW customer, they would give him a final subsidized upgrade and retain his unlimited data if he added insurance onto his account. I think that was the stipulation. This guy only uses about 1.6Gb/month.
        However, about a month ago another friend who is a bigger data hog (~4Gb/month, sometimes more) got shot down when trying the same tactic. Officially, they were supposed to cut off all unlimited data plan renewals and extensions in July of 2012.

      • wh1te_mag1c

        Some people are ‘grandfathered’ in the unlimited plan. Those people can keep their unlimited plan if they pay for the entire cost of new phones.

  • Detonation

    I voted yearly but I don’t use other lines’ upgrades. Halfway through my contract I’ll usually sell my phone and buy a better one (used) and then sell that one a year later when I sign a new contract.

  • paul_cus

    I buy unlocked phones when I want something new, there is no timelime involved. Thinking about slowing down in 2013, though, now that the specs are starting to plateau. First big splash of 2013 for me is going to be the Sony Xperia Z.

  • Big_EZ

    I upgrade about every 8 months, I have three lines that I get upgrades from. Two smart phones and one dumb phone so I never lose unlimited data.

  • George264

    I used to be upgrading every ~year or so, by paying etc/ full price. The reason was because Android kept being really unreliable. It’s like when the Galaxy S came out, it was supposedly “good” so I went with it. I hated that so much, I nearly cried having to use that everyday. Then I got the Rezound and it was a bit better, just some lag and need an extra battery like all Android phones of the time. But I couldn’t take it anymore with Android and I gave up and went for the 5(shut up). I’m not a sheep but I really have to say I know why people really enjoy iPhones. And this will probably get so much hate on Droid-Life, but a lot of things just work. like I haven’t gotten any crashes on the browser for the 4 months I’ve had it and it feels so great to know that every app coming out is always compatible with my phone. Having pretty much no lag. I might actually stick to this for more than a year. Although HTC did recently send me a 8X and DNA and I’m really enjoying the DNA, they pretty much fixed the battery issue with the S4 Pro. I can go for over a day on it. I had a S3 for like 10 days before I got the 5, and I really didn’t like how the UI worked and just how some parts of Android and so nice, but some are so clunky and not user friendly.

  • Buy This

    Needs a “unsure due to Nexus purchase” option.

  • GawkerRedesignSucks

    Before I got married: Every 6 months or so.

    Now: Every 2 years when my contract is up.


    • I guess that’ll teach you, won’t it?

      • LiterofCola

        I lol’d

    • You and me both!

    • New_Guy

      The trade-off’s of matrimony, my friend…thems the breaks πŸ™‚

  • jaybar

    after this two-year vzw contract is up *next* spring I’ll be looking elsewhere aka unlocked nexus or whatever is going on that far down the road

  • Justin Winker

    My answer is Yaarly, but it’s not by using upgrades from other lines.. It’s by paying full retail for a phone I desire. I initially purchased the OG Droid on contract, then the Bionic at full retail, and then the Razr HD at full retail. I returned the Razr HD to get the Nexus 4 and jumped off of Verizon. I’ll be able to purchase up to a $400 phone each year with the savings I have through StraightTalk, though, so I should be able to upgrade to a new Nexus each year (though this year it’s going to be the Moto X for sure).

    • Droidzilla

      How often does a pirate replace his phone?

      • Justin Winker

        Lol. Missed that. It’s what happens when you type with Swype πŸ™

    • Droidzilla

      Also, I would recommend holding off on the X Phone (if money’s at all an issue; if not, go wild) until Google announces the next Nexus. The new phones are always beasts, but it could be like buying the SGS3 right before the Nexus 4 came out.

      • moelsen8

        That’s gonna be a tough one…..

      • Royal2000H

        Don’t most people consider SGS3 > N4?

        • Droidzilla

          I don’t think anyone who’s avidly used the two does, should reviews be any guide. I’ve used both and prefer the Nexus 4, but I admit I haven’t used the SGSIII as a daily driver so I can’t say for sure.

          • JetBlue

            Care to share why the N4 is better other than it’s a Nexus?

          • Droidzilla

            First and foremost: it’s a Nexus! (I know you said other than, but that’s like saying, “Why date a bikini model, other than the fact that she’s hot?”). Better processor, I like the form factor and build quality better, arguably better screen, runs Android faster, better at updates, cheaper unlocked, support from Google; that’s about it. May not work for some (if you need Verizon, SD slot, or removable battery), but for me it’s nigh perfect.

          • droyd4life


            But for real, it has a lot faster GPU, faster CPU (compared to the US version), more RAM (compared to international), wireless charging, and it’s a nexus (Android updates, stock android, newest version of android etc.) The galaxy s3 also uses a pentile 720p display, the nexus 4 uses a true IPS+ display with a higher resolution than 720p.

            It’s half the price…

        • S2556

          N4: better screen, processor, update support, price

          GS3: better camera, more storage, removable battery, no glass back, LTE, access to samsungs very own app store among other awesome apps pre-loaded on the phone…
          Okay, maybe that last one should be a plus for the N4.

          I’d rather keep using my GS3 as my daily driver than an N4 (thuogh I wouldn’t mind an N4) but in the spec war that is phone ranking and device comparisons I think you have to give it to the N4 (at least comparing it to the North American variant) but if you don’t want a glass back, need LTE, Micro SD, removable battery, or more storage then you have to see which device would better suit you.

  • Guest

    I was on a yearly upgrade streak, then HTC started sending me phones. Whoops.
    Only HTC holy crap.

    • How did you get HTC to send you free phones?

      • JetBlue

        Pretty sure if you’re in the HTC group thing that they did awhile back you get to test phones before they come out like how people had the DNA before it came out.

  • Whenever I can afford to drop $600. So very rarely.

  • hkklife

    Usually every year or two by buying used or swapping upgrade lines but it really depends. OG Droid Nov 2009-July 2010. Droid X July 2010-July 2011. Droid X2 July 2011-Nov 2011. Bionic Nov 2011-July 2012. Galaxy S3 July 2012-present. Next on my radar is the Motorola X Phone if it’s anywhere CLOSE to the rumored specs! But since I am clinging to a grandfathered unlimited plan for dear life, I’ll have to pony up big $ for full retail or find a gently used one. When VZW yanks unlimited, then I’m gone for good.

  • I’m really jealous of the people who have voted for the “Whenever I see a phone I like”. That is just not financially realist for me. ETA’s or buying phones unsubsidized. I’ve been sticking with my Bionic since launch and can’t wait to upgrade. xD and yes… I am mad, bro. lol

    • Will Frame

      I actually wish I could stop myself from buying new phones all the time. I currently have six and I have my eye on another one. I usually sell them on Craigs when I buy new ones, but I can’t talk myself out of getting rid of any of my current phones.

      • Justin Winker

        I don’t often have money to buy full retail, but when I have spare cash lying around (hello, Tax Return), I typically blow it on electronics (though since I recently got a Nexus 4, I won’t need to this year).

        • hkklife

          Same here. I used to keep all kinds of spares, extras, old devices and whatnot around but now I limit myself very strictly to having whatever my current device is and that’s it. I purge my closet about once every 2-3 months and sell anything that’s not getting regular usage. It keeps my clutter down, keeps the wife happy, and makes spending $ a few times a year on new gadgets somewhat less painful.
          But yeah, I always immediately turn around and sell my old device as soon as I get the new one in-hand. No reason for that stuff to sit around depreciating.

      • paul_cus

        Haha, man, you sound just like me. I have a box full of phones I can’t bring myself to get rid of.

        • Yeah, I just bought a Nexus 4 and now I have my eye in the Oppo Find 5. It’s a real problem.

      • alan1718

        Haha, I’m the same way. I currently have 3 phones nex 4, note 2, and one x +. I can’t seem to sell them. I had my eye on the droid DNA but I’m on at&t. At this point I just change from one to the other when I get sick of the one I’m using.

        • Will Frame

          I almost bought the Droid DNA and just suffered with HSPA+ speeds (they have been good on the Nexus 4 anyway), but Verizon crapped all over that phone and HTC ruined multitasking.

  • George Fayad

    When a new (sometimes just different) phone interests me.

  • Aran Miller

    Anytime there is a new Nexus

    • trwb

      …unless it is made for Verizon

      • Michael

        He said Nexus….

      • Pedro

        That’s not a Nexus.

        I can say that with all honesty through the voice of experience.

        edit: and I now have the family migrating to N4 phones to the prepaid of their choice.

  • I’m not going to be using upgrades any more. I’m going to be buying phones full price and selling my old one every year.

    • TJEgan

      To keep unlimited on Verizon?

      • Thomas

        Exactly. Verizon made us do it. Kellen anymore rumors aboug them doing away w/ unlimited data on Verizon ? Last you said your “sources” were saying April.

        • MasterEthan

          If I lose unlimited data on Verizon, then I’ll most likely be leaving Verizon for another carrier that’s GSM (only two I can think of in US are T-Mobile and AT&T). It’d definately give me more freedom on phones and it looks like Nexus phones are more likely to be GSM over CDMA for now on. Either way I’m not going to renew contract with Verizon for a new phone, full price from this point forward (unless keeping unlimited requires another contract?).

          • LLcdPH

            Same here.

          • Mike

            I have been asking around lately about AT&T and have heard nothing but good things. Will be switching over to them once my contract expires (October). Mainly for the GSM network but also because I am tired of Verizons shi…. crap.

          • cb2000a

            On ATT now but will switch back to T-mobile at the end of contract. Coverage on ATT here is no better than T-mobile and I miss wifi calling (which gave me much better signal at home) and cheaper rates.

        • SexciiP

          Well actually if you upgraded before they implemented their new policies then you should be safe because unlimited data is under your contract. Once you contract is up I believe VZW can do away with your unlimited if they want, but if you upgraded right before they changed their plans last year then you should be good until like….2014.

          • This is correct. Anything else would break the contract terms, in which case they could lose a good amount of money from not getting ETFs to cover the device subsidies.

          • Shadowcell

            Actually, by right they are allowed to change your unlimited data plan without consent at any time but they have to advise you of the change. Which is a scary thing. Loyalty with carriers is a lost cause now.

          • Fattie McDoogles

            Outside of killing off a network type (ie: 3G or 2G) they can’t actually force you to change your plan. They have to either ask you or wait until you need a new phone through them to force you to those kind of changes. That is if nothing has changed since I worked there.

      • I unfortunately didn’t get on Verizon in time for it, but its more so I can switch to the Google carrier if/when it comes about and so I can leave Verizon at any moment if they stop being the only real choice.

        • michael arazan

          My Gnex is my last subsidized phone, I’m hoping the Dish/ Google carrier will be up and going when my contract expires in jan 2014, I’ll milk vzw unlimited as much as possible till then, and if they revoke it the day my contract expires i’ll go to sprint till Dish/ Google is ready.

      • The real poll we should do is “How many people are still on Verizon but DON’T have grandfathered unlimited?”

    • same boat! i wont give up my unlimited data…

    • ImmaDroid

      i used my first one for the Gnex, and my last one 6m later for the GS3. So looks like I’ll be doing the same from here on. Cant risk losing my $19.99 unlimited data with VZW by using an upgrade.

    • Word!

    • I hear ya! I used to be a regular new every two customer but ever since Verizon axed the unlimited plans I have been holding onto my Droid Razr (was a Thunderbolt before Verizon screwed that up). The SGS3 and Note 2 REALLY caught my eye and with the rumors flying high around the SGS4 I think I might just have to bite the bullet and purchase one when they are released at full price to hold me over for 2+ years.

      • I’m with you on this, but honestly since the JB update I’m perfectly happy with my Razr, and I’ll be waiting to see what Motorola and Google can really do.

    • xXAaronSXx

      This has actually worked pretty well for me. I have done this with all three of my lines twice to keep my unlimited data (and just because my wife and daughter saw new phones they had to have). With eBay, I can’t say I broke even every time, but it gets the price in the “justifiable” range.

  • OligarchyAmbulance

    I always upgrade when my contract expires, however once it’s up in April I’m done. I will never be locked in to a contract on the scumbag carriers again.

  • BSweetness

    Every 2-3 months.

    …although I’ll be hanging onto the Note 2 for significantly longer than any other device I’ve ever had.

  • Every 2 years…. guess i should go month to month if i wanna sell last months phone for this months new feature.

  • brkshr

    About 3 to 4 a year

  • Rich Koos

    I’ve had my Gnex since it came out and an OG droid before, as did many people on this site. But this year I’ve noticed that I don’t want to upgrade my phone because there hasnt been a flagship I wanted and could get, Nexus 4 :(. Yes the dna and gs3 are attractive phones but they are not what I want in an upgrade.

    • Droidzilla

      What’s stopping you from ditching Verizon and getting a Nexus 4? The X Phone sounds awesome, I’ll admit (won’t ditch my N4 for it), but I doubt I’ll ever go back to Verizon now that I’ve jumped ship to prepaid.

      • DroidzFX

        unlimited data and coverage.

        • Droidzilla

          And price. Rimshot!

        • droyd4life

          If you have bad T-Mobile coverage, I can understand. But what if you have amazing coverage like me? I pull 12-20 Mbps down on my Nexus 4 with T-Mobile and haven’t had a dropped call since I’ve had it for 3 months.

          • Personally, I prefer to have the reliability of Verizon. I know that I can get solid signal in just about the entire continental U.S, all of Hawaii (Verizon map even shows a couple 4G LTE markets on the islands) and the populated parts of Alaska! Of course you pay for this reliability time and time again but so far Verizon has had top notch customer service (the reps are clearly reading from a script but they are honest and if the issue is unable to be resolved they send a CLN device next day shipping for FREE) as well as Verizon seems to offer some of the best devices in the US (Droid DNA, Note 2, SGS3, etc).

          • Matthew Merrick

            “and if the issue is unable to be resolved they send a CLN device next day shipping for FREE”

            o_O are we both in verizon? i don’t see how we can be. my family’s plan has had plenty of problems over the years, and the only answer we EVER get out of CS is “would you like to file an insurance claim for $99?”

          • Thats odd! But then again all of my issues were do to Verizon OTA updates and finicky CLN devices that were still covered under the 90 day warranty. Are you sure the devices were still covered under the warranty?

          • Matthew Merrick

            Probably not. πŸ˜› But still, ive heard little but horror stories from she android community regarding VZW CS, and my own experiences range form maddening to infuriating. πŸ˜› So, just unusual to hear someone sing their praises in a non-paid-advertisement type of way.

      • epoc2207

        Which prepaid have you gone with? Are you happy with it (given data/coverage potential shortfalls)?

        • Brent Cooper


        • Droidzilla

          I was with T-Mobile’s 100 minute, $30 plan, but the minutes proved too few for me. I switched to Straight Talk and went AT&T ($45/month for unlimited everything, though they can throttle you after a certain amount of data, I hear). T-Mobile had better peak speeds, but AT&T has had more consistent coverage. I’ve found that it’s just as fast in actual usage as T-Mobile’s HSPA+42 or Verizon’s LTE.

          Best part is, if my minutes usage goes down or T-Mobile builds/upgrades a tower closer to my house, I can switch with no ETF or any other nonsense. Or I can go with AT&T without Straight Talk if they have a pre-paid deal, ST with T-Mo, T-Mo if they have a better deal, etc. It’s actually quite liberating; and cheap to boot!

          • epoc2207

            Thanks for the response! I’m just a few weeks off (research wise) from finally “cutting the wireless chord” so to speak and wanted to get your input to see how you’ve fared.

          • Droidzilla

            Happy to help! I wrote about my experience here, if you want any more details:

          • JMonkeYJ

            did you try supplementing the minutes with VOIP? i’m a more than 100 minutes/month talker (usually ~200 – 250), but have been able to make the $30 plan work with VOIP. as i got more comfortable with VOIP, i’ve used it more and more to where i use very few minutes now.

          • Droidzilla

            I did, but I couldn’t find a VOIP solution that worked for me. GrooVeIP has always been problematic, and the SIP one I tried destroyed my battery life. What are you using? I’m always up to try something new, and since I’m prepaid I can switch back and forth between carriers whenever I like.

          • JMonkeYJ

            ha! yes, that is one of the great things about no contract! i use GrooVeIP, which I quite like, especially while on wifi (altho i did tinker quite a bit with the settings) and Vonage. Vonage seems better for outgoing calls on 3/4G. i just today decided to try using GrooVeIP all the time, so the jury is still out on that one.

            i also haven’t had good luck with SIP, but mostly due to complexity. i can never seem to get it to work the way i want.

      • Rich Koos

        Mainly unlimited data and a family plan. Hopefully when I get my own plan in a few years data and coverage won’t be such a big deal.

  • EvanTheGamer

    Every 2 years, unless there is an available upgrade before 2 years.

  • Apple users upgrade every two years because of manufacture capabilities right?

  • Every 1-2 years for me